In today’s digital world, farm owners are in need of technology that will help in managing their agriculture field. The adoption of IoT technology for agriculture is rapidly growing. According to Business Insider’s prediction IoT devices installation will cross 75 million by 2020 and the market size would triple by 2025. Smart Farming will enable and help the farmers to reduce the waste materials and increase productivity of the fertilizer. It will also enable farmers monitor the crops and field condition from anywhere. It is highly efficient compared to the conventional approach.
Some of the IoT technologies that are helping in the field of agriculture are as follows:
Drones & the Bees
Climate change is the biggest problem for agriculture and human beings. We have no control over the change in temperature but we can reduce the ill effects hampering the quality of food production. Experts at the University of Reno, Nevada writes, “If climate change continues to worsen, food shortages could drive higher prices even in more developed countries like the U.S., leading to a public health crisis in the form of global food shortages and waves of hunger”. Bees play an important role as pollinators, helping sustain agricultural production. But more than 600 species of North American bees are headed towards extinction. Drones are now being used to supplement the pollination process that was traditionally carried out by the bees. They are used to enhance the agricultural practices that increases the yield. They can assess the health of the crop, monitoring crop, irrigation facilities, crop spraying and detecting soil fertility. The major benefits of using drone is the availability of real time data that will enable farmers enhance their planning strategies.
Artificial Intelligence, IoT and Automation
We have heard about the future of driverless car- the automated cars on the road where the autopilot feature takes care of driving. How about the driverless vehicles on the farm? A company called Smart Ag has introduced functional driverless tractor technology in the form of “Autocart” software. The software takes care of the tractor which provides assistance during harvesting season. The software allows the tractor to adjust speed, monitor location and precisely command the grain cart to sync with the tractor.
The CEO of smart Ag, Colin Hurd said that the innovative technology will automate the equipment to maximize its efficiency and capacity. The software “AutoCart” is a cloud-based platform. The automated vehicles will soon join the IoT.
Most people know about the blockchain technology and how it works. Whenever people hear about blockchain, they associate it with cryptocurrency finance and bitcoins. But this technology is slowing taking its space in the agricultural field too. Recently commodity traders Louis Dreyfus Co. (LDC) traded in blockchain-powered technology selling more than 60,000 tons of soya beans to China.
The blockchain technology is based on a shared ledger. It contains records of transactional details all of which is stored in blocks. These blocks contain information which is tramper-poof. It will collect information during registration of users. Farmers will get instant information regarding seed quality, soil moisture, climate conditions, payments, etc. The technology will help in establishing direct link between farmers and the consumers or retailers. This will eliminate the middle men and empowers small farmers. The blockchain technology will give transparency in pricing and supply chain.
Farm Management Systems
Farm Management Systems is a powerful dashboard with analytics and accounting or reporting features for the farm owners. It includes a number of IoT sensors and devices that project the information’s on the dashboard. This allows the farmer to monitor from a remote place and streamline the business activities. Companies like Cropio and Farmlogs provides solutions for agriculture farming.
Cattle Monitoring and Management
IoT is used in monitoring and management of cattle. IoT sensors can be attached to the animals to monitor their health just like IoT devices for pet care. Cowlar and SCR by Allflex, are smart agricultural sensors that delivers health activity, temperature and nutrition insights of each cow.
IoT devices can be used to collect valuable information specific to crop farming. For this, the devices should be placed in the field that will collect data related to temperature and crop health. All these information can help in improving the farming practices. Furthermore, it can prevent infestations on the crop.
Opencube Labs (OCl) is a startup based out of Bengaluru whose devices check the health of the crop with the help of smart sensors that show real time information.
Suraj Kumar Jana, founder at OCL, said: “A high precision, easy to use, open source tool has been designed to measure the Normalised Density Vegetation Index and get real time crop health. These health factor indicators help in understanding the right amount and time for the use of fertilisers and pesticides.”
“Our product also includes a real-time soil vital measurement system that checks for soil moisture, nutrient and PH levels in the field. Our cloud then analyses all the sensor data and acts of the semi-automated irrigation system, gives inputs to farmers for better use of fertilizer in local language and predicts the returns from yield, best seeds for the soil and precautionary measures.”
With continuous improvement in technology, IoT will bring revolution in the agriculture field. Growing number of smart IoT devices are helping farmers in collecting meaningful data. Farmers should understand the power and potential of IoT for agriculture. As the population is increasing rapidly, farmers can successfully meet the demands.
Vertical farming is a new trend is the field of agriculture. Jelor Gallego from Futurism.com says that “Vertical farming doesn’t promise to radically change the way we farm, only make it more efficient, productive, and take up less space.”